Reading List

Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan writes about blog improvement and book blogs.

| Updated on: Jan 20 2009, 17:13 IST

I've spoken earlier about music blogs and the different widgets you can use to show your choice of music.

Today, I thought I'd talk about book blogs — dedicated to, or with frequent posts about books and how to theme your layout so it shows what you've been reading recently.

It's a good idea to have your blog reflect what it is you're going to be blogging about, I like to know from the very first page load what I can expect from a certain website.

What's on your shelf?

One thing I use on my own blog is Library Thing (

). It's won several awards and is, simply put, awesome.

Basically the site lets you search a large database and add books you've read to your own personal catalogue.

Perfect for someone like me who often forgets how many books I have or what I've bought in the last six months. It also has a similar books search so you know what other books you should be looking out for.

Also, Library Thing offers a code to add to your blog which updates three (or five or whatever) random books from your collection to show your readers what you've got on your shelves.

The only downside is you're only allowed 200 books for free, after which you have to sign up and pay.

Similar to Library Thing is Shelfari (

) with a widget you can add to your blog.

Publishing houses are quick to jump on the whole widget trend (hey, anything to sell more books, right?) Random House publishers have their own snazzy little widget called Insight, which lets you search inside books (


It doesn't look like you can add the code to your blog, but it's a nice little link to have on your sidebar. Also with a searchable database is the new Google Books widget, which lets you embed book clips on your website.

It comes with image and text, which is great if you're running a book club sort of blog — you can show people the text you're reading and open up your comments section to discussion about the passage.

Check it out at the Google blog at



Market your book online

If you're an author you might want to look into AdaptiveBlue's Book Widget (


There's an email mentioned to get the widget — so I suspect it isn't free, but they are all fully customisable. According to the site, each book in the widget has a SmartLink that makes the best links to the book from around the web directly available.

The widgets update automatically, so when you release a new book everyone receives the update in their widget."

This seems like a great idea to promote your book, especially in this day and age of online marketing. If you're looking for a free option, you could do what I did.

I went to my Blogger layout page, clicked on Add An Image and put an image of my book there.

The layout also offered me a choice of putting a click through link from the book, so I added the link for an online books marketing site, that I know sells copies of my book all over the country and that has some user reviews also.

I put it right on top so that anyone who loads the page can see it easily, right next to the first post, added a catchy caption and now anyone who reads my blog can easily just click on through and go buy my book.

The downside is I can only add one link, so space for press and other sites selling it and the official publishers page can't be added.

And, just to add a little fun, as I close, no books blog can be complete without a catchy quotation widget.

The best one I found online was from Yahoo (

). It's resizable, can be manually refreshed and you can pick your own colours. Pretty!

Meenakshi writes a blog at

www.thecompulsive You can send her your queries at

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First Published Date: 20 Jan, 13:33 IST